Author: abollack

10,000 Pre-WWI Postcards Available Online

The Digital Collections and Services Department recently completed digitization of the George Watson Cole postcard collection in the Watkinson Library, now publicly available online in ArtStor. The collection consists of over 10,000 European postcards depicting pre-WWI England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, and Belgium; there are also included several hundred American postcards, primarily of everyday life in Southern California and Native Americans in the Southwest.

George Watson Cole (1850-1939)  was a librarian and bibliographer, friend and contemporary of famous librarians Melvil Dewey and Charles Cutter. Born in Warren, CT, he became librarian in Fitchburg, MA and enrolled in the first class of Melvil Dewey’s library school at Columbia University. He received an honorary doctorate from Trinity in 1920, and donated the European portion of his extensive postcard collection to the Watkinson Library. He put his librarianship to good use in organizing and labeling his postcard collection.

In the early 1900s, Cole embarked on travels throughout Europe and the United States and collected every postcard he could find at various stops in towns, cities, museums, and landmarks. Cole believed in postcards’ value as historic records of how things appeared in the past. Further, he believed that keeping these visual representations should be a constant action that tracked changes over time. The images in the postcards are a slice of life: people, streets, maps, monuments, art museums, and churches as they appeared at the turn of the century and before two world wars devastated Europe.

Toward the end of his life, in 1933, Cole decided to donate the his personal papers, books, and postcard collection (which he estimated contained over 25,000 postcards) to the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass. As the AAS only collects American materials, Robert Vail the AAS librarian accepted Cole’s gifts of his personal papers and American postcards, but declined the European half of the collection (Source: Postcards in the Library: Invaluable Visual Resources edited by Norman D. Stevens).

And whether by accident or not, Cole left about 500 Californian postcards along with his European collection to Trinity. The California postcards depict everyday life from the Southern California area — Avalon, Mount Lowe, Los Angeles, Orange County, Long Beach, Venice, and Santa Monica. A small number of American postcards in the Trinity collection also depict Native Americans in New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

They are a testimony to how so much has changed — but also to what has not.

Click on the postcards below for a larger view!

“Nothing in print is more universal than the postcard.”

— Postcards, the world in miniature; a plan for their systematic arrangement, with an index (1935) by George Watson Cole.

Digital Collections & Services Projects Update

The student staff working for Digital Collections & Services has been busy this semester completing two projects: the George Watson Cole Postcard collection, and the Trinity College Bulletins, housed in Watkinson. Students have digitized hundreds of postcards this semester, with just a few hundred remaining which will complete Trinity’s digital collection of Cole’s 10,000 postcards. The postcards already digitized and cataloged are available for view in Shared Shelf Commons and Artstor. George Watson Cole was a librarian and bibliographer, friend and contemporary of famous librarians Melvil Dewey and Charles Cutter, who traveled through France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and England in the early 1900s and collected every postcard he could find. As a result, Trinity houses one half of his 20,000 postcards, primarily depicting pre-WWI Europe and some of California. These postcards show a slice of life: people, towns, maps, and churches as they appeared at the turn of the century and before two world wars devastated Europe.

The Trinity College Bulletins are also nearly complete, with a few volumes left from the 1940s and 50s, on which the students are currently working. During Fall 2017, the students completed digitization of Bulletins from the early 1990s to 2010.

The Bulletins include annual reports of the College President, Treasurer, and Librarian, the yearly library catalog and curriculum, necrology lists, faculty publications, photographs, summer school and graduate school information, among other booklets. The digitized bulletins stem from 1829 and are available to view on the Digital Repository. To get to the digital repository, visit the college library catalog –> Digital Collections –> Digital Repository –> College history, archives, and publications.

A biography of James Williams (1790 – 1878), who served as janitor to Trinity College for over 50 years, is also now available in the Digital Repository.

Connecticut Connections: Historical College Scrapbooks from Connecticut College, Trinity College, and Wesleyan University

Over the past year, the CTW Digital Projects Group, which encompasses staff from Connecticut College, Trinity College, and Wesleyan University, came together to consider how the three schools might collaborate on digitizing and publishing archival or other materials owned by each school.

For its pilot project, the group selected student-made scrapbooks from multiple eras: those of Linda Abel, a student at Connecticut College from 1965-1969, Lynn Smith Miller, a student at Wesleyan from 1910-1914, and Phillip DeWitt Phair, who attended Trinity College from 1890 – 1894. The scrapbooks offer a glimpse into college student life during these periods through ephemera such as playbills and athletic event tickets, dance and social cards, artwork, valentines, invitations and letters, newspaper clippings, menus, and miscellaneous objects.

Utilizing the University of Southern California’s open-source platform, Scalar, members of the group scanned and uploaded an image of each scrapbook page, jointly decided on metadata fields, and added metadata and descriptions for each page, as well as a biography and introduction to each scrapbook.

“Connecticut Connections” was recently presented at the CTW Retreat in downtown Hartford and is publicly available online at: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/ctwscrapbooks. 

Deer Jumping a Fence: March 12, 1908, Canaan, CT.

The Enders Ornithology Lantern Slides Collection comprises over 800 hand-tinted glass plate photographs, produced by Herbert Keightley Job from 1896 to 1925. Job was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1864 and was a minister, lecturer, author, ornithologist, and pioneer wildlife photographer.

Job’s slides are digitized and make up part of the Ostrom and Alice Talcott Enders Ornithology Collection, a comprehensive collection of over 5,000 items including books, original artwork, periodicals, and more in the Watkinson Library.

While many of Job’s slides are of birds, he photographed this deer in Canaan, CT jumping over a fence on March 12, 1908! Other slides include scenes of everyday life as well as architecture, landscapes, and animals, some of which were taken throughout Connecticut. What you find may surprise you!

Visit the Digital Collections page and select “Enders Ornithology Lantern Slides” under “Image Collections in Shared Shelf Commons” to view the collection. Learn about lantern slides here.